DNB Is On Vacation

Greetings folks. I am in bad need of a mental break and need some time to recharge my batteries. Some of you that are close to me know some of the challenges I have been dealing with. Aside from the obvious ones of an uncertain future for the NBA next season. I really need to take a break for me. Ryan is busy with exams for school as well. So it seems like a good time to just take a break for the Dino Nation Blog. So barring any significant Raptor News we will be on Vacation till May the 2nd.

I always appreciate your support of the Dino Nation Blog. In 3 plus years of doing this I never taken an intentional vacation. Due to some technically issues we had to shut down a couple times. But never just to relax and take a break. I hope by taking this time off I can get my energy and enthusiasm for what I do back. It has been a tough few months and I have grinned through them till the end of the season. When we are back Jack Armstrong is scheduled to drop by. So we have that to look forward too. I will probably book a few more guests while taking this break as well. Yeah because anyone that knows me is aware I never truly fully take time off 100%. Also will be doing my Radio stuff on Next Wednesday on CJLO and Back on the air on Team 990 after having this Saturday off.

In Addition to taking a break from the DNB that is also going to include the DNB Twitter Account. I just want to take a complete break. So if you are someone I am close with and have other ways to get a hold of me feel free to use those. But with a few exceptions here and there I am going to be taking time to rest until May 2nd.

Hope people understand this. It is really needed. I could push through like I always do. But I think if I did it would probably not be what is best for me personally and for you the readers. It is Easter Weekend and if you celebrate that holiday enjoy the time with your friends and family and may the Easter Bunny be good to you all.

Thanks for your understanding and patience.

James Borbath


What The Lockout Could Mean For Raptors And NBA In Canada?

It seems almost a certainty that the NBA is heading towards a lockout as the NFL has. The impact it could have on the Raptors and the NBA in this country could be massive. Changes in the CBA that have been discussed could have some serious positive impacts on the Raptors. While a loss of the sport could have a tremendously negative impact on coverage of the sport here in Canada. Let's talk about that first and then will tackle the positives for the Toronto Raptors after that.

If there is one thing that I have learned in doing this blog for over 3 years is there are a lot of basketball fans across this country. Many of whom feel they are being screwed over in terms of coverage of the NBA in this country. The main stream media and the way they treat the sport is quite frankly a joke. You only need to look how the NBA Playoffs are treated in terms of television as an example. Buried on secondary networks and running all most at the same time as the NHL Playoffs. It is a toxic mix in a country where Hockey is religion for most. Hockey is always the main concern of sports networks in this country. It is elephant in the room. Even when the NHL had their lockout and missed an entire season, it did not stop people in this country from talking about it on a daily basis. It was total insanity. What perhaps was even more insane is the fact that hockey coverage in the post lockout era is even bigger than it ever was. It gets more insane every single year. Hockey fans in this country had zero impact from the lockout. In fact when the NHL came back Canada went hockey crazy. No real surprise in that.

But should the NBA go away for a year or even less that will not have the same positive impact. If basketball gets buried now how do you think it will be treated after a lengthy labour stoppage? I don't think anyone can debate that it will improve coverage. Many basketball fans turn to the internet for that fix. It may not shock anyone, but I am far from getting rich doing this the last three years. It is a concern for the future of lots of blogs like this one I would imagine. So if some blogs get swept aside due to a lengthy labour stoppage it would not shock anyone. It would or should not surprise anyone that basketball on the other side, will have to fight and claw just to maintain the pretty shabby coverage it gets now in the main stream media in Canada. If you think things are bad now, it has been far worst in the past and it likely takes step backwards on the other side of a lockout. Let's face it the lack of creativity in sports media in this country will most certainly see more Hockey replacing the little slice of the pie basketball has.

So if you think not getting to see Kobe Bryant get his MVP award after the All-Star Game was bad. Games not being shown at all or stuck in stand by waiting for an endless NHL Hockey overtime to end to see the Lakers. Wait maybe TSN just hates the Lakers? But jokes aside, all minor inconveniences that drive you nuts now likely only grow in a post lockout NBA in Canada.

After coming to terms with this reality of all of that, there is a potential silver lining. In terms of the Raptors there could be a lot of positives for them on the other side of a lockout. While they will no doubt they will be concerned they do not lose fans and interest as a result. They also will hope I am totally wrong about the media response to this. Still in terms basketball operations some things in the new CBA could be mighty helpful to the Raptors.

If you were to just say one thing has been the major stumping block of the Raptors success what would it be? Incompetent ownership? No wasn't going there, but that could potentially look different in the post lockout as well, with MLSE having it's majority share in the company that owns the Raptors on the market. But where I was going was the loss of it's star players. It has been the repeating and defining story. One that the Raptors have not been able to solve on their own.

We have a shiny new franchise tag to solve that problem. Demar DeRozan can grow in Toronto and you do not have to live in fear he will follow the path of McGrady, Carter and Bosh. The NBA would not be doing this just for the Raptors but for many other franchises that have true financial concerns from losing stars. The Raptors never have had to fear for their franchise if a star player walks. But can't say the same for markets like Cleveland, Milwaukee, Memphis, New Orleans and many others. Those franchises need more certainty that their stars can not up and cut out for South Beach, L.A or NYC. How about the Magic with Dwight Howard looking more like a goner everyday. A franchise tag would maybe not allow teams to keep their stars in the long term, but it would give them another card to play in trying to get value for them, instead of seeing them force their way out of town in a bad trade or just walk away all together.

The elimination of the MLE. The Mid Level Exception for those who may not be CBA Junkies is that one contract/contracts that teams can use each year to bring in a player or players to add to the mix. It is why and how teams like New York, Miami, L.A and other high budget teams can still add a good player at a decent salary (5 to 6 million) . Making the choice to take a little less money to go to a contending team a easier pill to swallow. It is how some teams regardless of having a ton of cap space have never been able to bring in that big name that could help them turn things around. The Raptors have been positioned well by Bryan Colangelo to have a significant amount of cap room looking forward to the first 2 seasons under the new CBA. Assuming there is a season next year that is. But when basketball resumes the Raptors will have money to spend. While the reality is some veteran players who have made their money might still go to those teams with the best chance to win for the NBA league minimum. It opens the door for players not that far a long to have to give teams with cap space a more serious look. As much as players want to win they also do want to make money. A players career is only so long. It is important that they maximize the time they have to earn money. They are one injury away from earning nothing more potentially. Toronto is a city that NBA players do like and is by far not the least attractive market in the NBA.

A hard cap is also being talked about. While MLSE does not exactly benefit from this. You only need to look at the hockey team and see how the Leafs have performed under the NHL Cap as proof of that. However the Raptors have never been treated the same by MLSE in terms of spending anyway. I would just put it to you this way. If the NHL operated under the NBA system does anyone doubt that the Maple Leafs would be a tax level team? The Raptors should be that in NBA. But regardless a even more restrictive cap than the NHL has would at least make it a level playing field for all. It would also make mistakes more costly at the management level. But the idea of super teams in Miami and elsewhere would take a serious blow if that hard cap exists.

The overall outlook to me is the bigger the owners win in this labour deal it makes the Raptors chances to be competitive increase. That is of course if done with the correct and proper management in place. There is not a team that can survive under any system with totally incompetent management. See Stu Jackson in Vancouver for the best example of that. I highly doubt the Raptors can find a guy that is going to be able to adjust as fast to a new system than the one they have in place in Bryan Colangelo. For all of Bryan's faults, the one thing he has always been is a forward thinker and looking to stay ahead of the curve. Despite being 22-60 and having a truly awful season one of the worst in franchise history. He still has positioned this team well to deal with the NBA's new and uncertain reality under a new collective bargaining agreement.

There is lots of changes and impact that this lockout will cause for the NBA and the Raptors here in Canada. That is about the only thing we can say with any great certainty. This gives you a small glimpse at what some of those thing potentially could be. But no one is going to feel the sorrow for us that was afforded to hockey fans in this country when the NHL Lockout happened. While no one will celebrate the NBA's return with the stupid insanity that hockey fans have. The NHL is not a better product based on their year on the sidelines. Let's hope that the NBA will be better off on the other side of their labour war. I fear that basketball may have to endure being buried in Canada just like the NHL is buried in U.S in a post lockout NHL. It is a real problem for people that love basketball in this country to consider. I hope I live long enough to see a Canada that embraces the game that was invented by one of our own. Basketball is a great sport that in case you forgot was given to the world by a Canadian.


Starting 5 Season Wrap with Ryan Wolstat.

The Dino Nation Blog will be trying to hook up with all of our regular guests and get their thoughts on the Raptors season and uncertain future. Today in the guest chair is Ryan Wolstat from the Toronto Sun. I had got to know Ryan through social media and then have met him a few times in covering games together. I enjoy his work and his honest approach in evaluating things. We look at the future of Bargnani, Triano, Colangelo, Calderon and others. Yes there are a lot of questions to be answered for sure. MLSE has certainly made this situation a lot more cloudy then we might have expected. Heading into an uncertain future in the NBA you have to question the wisdom of that. Hopefully you will find some actual wisdom in this conversation on the future of the Raptors in the short and long term. I always enjoy having are various guest share there opinions with me and thus with you. There is no shortage of opinions on the Raptors future and this franchise that is for sure.

If you do not already follow Ryan on Twitter, I would recommend you do. He can be found @WolstatSun offering solid takes on the Raptors and NBA in addition to his work for The Sun. Also knows his stuff in terms of college hoops as he referenced covering the Final Four this year and was also in Chicago covering the McDonald's All American Game with Myck Kabongo and a couple other Canadian kids in that game as well. In short he is a basketball junkie and knows his stuff.

DNB Top 10 - Things B.C Was Thinking

I am filling in doing the DNB Top 10 while Ryan takes his exams for school. I am sure we all wish him luck with his exams. On to the Top 10 on Monday we heard from Bryan Colangelo here is what he might have been thinking but not saying.

#10- Bryan it is showtime. You can spin 22-60 into a positive I know you can.

#9- I am going try something new and be honest about Andrea Bargnani

#8- Sam Mitchell was such a pain. Jay Triano shares my philosophy in the team that scores the most wins. Sure we talk defence but let's face it chicks dig scoring!!!

#7- At least the Lockout will give me more time to figure this mess out.

#6- If we win the draft lottery I can't make a worse pick than Andrea Bargnani. I just can't can I? No it is not possible.

#5- Demar DeRozan is my only hope. My future is hanging on a kid that is like what 20? Great.

#4- MLSE Board kissed my butt to get me to come here and now they are not giving me my contract extension? What is up with that? I mean is it my fault Chris Bosh is a jerk and a liar?

#3- B.C talk about the Lockout and get fined...I Don't think so.

#2- I hate Michael Jordan he messed up everything. I had Calderon gone and I could have been a hero. People bash me over Bargnani. Hell he is better than Kwame Brown. Yeah take that M.J!!!

#1- If I trade Andrea Bargnani. I bet I can get his Primo Pasta ad. He is one hell of an "ASS"et. But I am B.C and I can trade anyone not named Jose Calderon.

So that is some of the things Bryan Colangelo might have been thinking but probably not. Still it was funny I hope. After this season if we can not have fun and laugh we might have to cry. There is no crying in Basketball. Right Glen Davis....Miami Heat....ok I guess there is.

Later today some more serious stuff as I talk with Ryan Wolstat from the Toronto Sun about the Raptors season and future. Over the next few weeks will be trying to hook up with a lot of of regular guests to look back on the season and look forward. Jack Armstrong, Matt Devlin and others will hopefully all be stopping by.


NBAZ In 7 DayZ - Playoff Edition

The least debated of the post season awards was handed out, and no surprise Dwight Howard wins the Defensive MVP for a 3rd straight year. No one has ever accomplished that feat. But the harder feat for Dwight will be to take his Magic anywhere in the playoffs. The group around him is anything but defensive minded. The Hawks who took game 1 of their opening round series against the Magic. They last season took the worst beating in the history of the NBA Playoffs. That humiliation might have just motivated the Hawks to show up this year. It motivated them to send Mike Woodson packing. He was the coach in Atlanta for 6 years and improved his win total every season. But his team and their lack of performance in the playoffs was the reason he was let go. Stan Van Gundy has to worry about his future if the Magic go out in first round. Not that he will lose his job, but he very well could lose Dwight and that would make his job a lot tougher to keep in the future.

I had told you that the Boston and Knicks series would be closer than people thought. That Amare Stoudamire if he plays big in this series could help the Knicks upset Boston. In Game 1 both of those were true. It was a pretty exciting game and if the Knicks can come up with a similar effort they might just be able to head back to New York tied at 1. Boston just has not been the same since Kendrick Perkins was dealt at the deadline. Despite Jermaine O'Neal being able to turn back the clock in game 1, he is no Kendrick Perkins. Rajon Rondo has not exactly played to his All-Star level of late. Maybe he should watch Russell Westbrook for some inspiration. Boston also might have noticed that the Miami Heat trashed the Sixers last night and that Chris Bosh guy is looking pretty good. But Boston has to get there in the first place to face the Heat and that will not be an easy task.

Speaking of turning back the clock how about Jason Kidd? He was pretty amazing in game one for the Mavs. He hit six shots from beyond the arc and had one of the best playoff performances of his long career. Dirk also got a bit dirty getting in the paint and taking the ball to the hoop. The Blazers on the other hand could say they didn't get the full bang for their buck. Gerald Wallace who I said would be key in the Blazers upsetting the Mavs was not exactly the factor he needs to be in game 1. Also the Blazers have a huge advantage with Lamarcus Aldridge and the need to take advantage of it. Tyson Chandler is a good to great defender in the post. But Aldridge is quicker and can make jumpers from the mid-range. You wish that the old Brandon Roy was still around. But injuries have taken away the brilliance that once was Brandon Roy. I still don't trust the Mavs and will see how they respond once they face some adversity in this series. If they can get out of Dallas up 2-0 that would be well advised. The Rose Garden is one of the better environments in the NBA.

Many have raved about what a great weekend of basketball it was. This is true it was some of the best first round basketball we have seen in the playoffs in quite some time. Both number one seeds were pushed to the brink. The Bulls survived and won a similar type game last night coming out on top in a tight affair. The Spurs were not as lucky going in the history books as the first team to lose a playoff game to the Grizzlies Franchise. I can't help but still feel sad as no matter how good these playoffs can or will be it is not going to change one fact. That fact is that when it all is over and a champion is crowned that might be it for a very long time. The Lockout is looming and it is like a dark cloud that has hung over my head all season. Part of me says just enjoy the moment and not think about it. But that is very hard to do for me seeing as I try to eek out a living covering this sport. But I will try my best. No question the product on court right now has been pretty fantastic.


Cloudy Future For B.C and Raptors

The most important question remains unanswered. That is will Bryan be back or not. He says he doesn't no the answer to that but based on all that he had to say it sure seems like he might be done. Maybe I am wrong but I walked away from it feeling far less certain Colangelo would be back than I did going in. He claims the team made a choice around December 30th to play for next season and not for this one. He also claims that the Bosh Trade Exception is likely to die with still just over 9 million on the tap. Remember when I said that Trade Exception was nothing....Well it pretty much was.

What was probably most shocking of all was Bryan's honest and frank assessment of Andrea Bargnani. He said that he did not expect him to improve much on defence end of the floor. He did say that his rebounding should and can improve with effort on his part. He constantly referenced Bargnani as a valuable "asset" to the team. He also did point out Bargnani has established that he can be a 20 point a night scorer in this league. This was by far the most negative Colangelo has been about Bargnani in a public forum. He said that the fact he was his number one pick and he was not willing to consider moving him was not true and pointed to his history back with the Suns as evidence. In fact he said there is no on on this team he would not consider moving.

Speaking of moving he said the Raptors Draft pick still to be determined could also be moved as well. If the Raptors selected based on their record it would be at the 3 spot. He noted this team's need for a true center. He lamented about the deal with Charlotte that never happened that would have brought Tyson Chandler to the Raptors. He also lamented about the whole Chris Bosh situation. He claimed that their was not the offers there people might have thought and that Bosh had always given them positive signs about his returning to the Raptors. He also said that the team had chances to make trades that could have made them a playoff team this season. But felt that it was more important to keep the flexibility the team had established instead.

He talked about the young core the team has established and feels that fans have embraced this direction the team has taken. He would not go into details on when he felt this group would be ready to compete for a playoff spot. He spoke of the personal sacrifices both he and Jay Triano have made in going in this direction. Doing what was best for the franchise and not themselves.

He gave the impression that "if" he was back it is almost certain that Jay would return as well. He said if he would not he would recommend that Jay remain in his position moving forward. He said that until his future was decided that there could not be a decision made on Jay's Future.

Bryan did a lot of defending and spinning and you got the impression that his future might be in serious jeopardy. Although he insists that it is his intention to remain and finish what he started if that is the choice the Organization makes in terms of him. He was the same Colangelo that appears confident and has a game plan. That being said it is hard to keep buying into it when his track record at least here in Toronto has had a steady decline. While he can offer a lot of reason or excuses as to why the fact remains this team has headed in the wrong direction in terms of wins and loses.

The MLSE Board needs to make a choice and get this over with in terms of Colangelo and Triano. Regardless of the choice they make, the fact that none has been made is the more concerning than either option they could take. Colangelo would not discuss the lockout in any great detail. But he admits that will be a factor in everything as well. He claims the Raptors have several scenarios in place to deal with a new CBA once it is established.

So if you were looking for answers in this press conference there really was not any. More questions and reason to speculate on the future of the Raptors. But if B.C comes back he clearly has yet another plan to try and clean up his own mess.


NBAZ in 7 DAYZ - Playoff Preview

It is Playoff Time and myself and Ryan give you our playoff picks for Round 1. So we will kick it of in the East.

Eastern Conference

Bulls(1) vs Pacers(8)

Key Player: Carlos Boozer (Chi) - Be important for the Bulls to get him off to a nice start because they will need him in later rounds. (James)

Carlos Boozer (Chi)-after several series in Utah and not much success in the playoffs he has a chance to make it all the way to the big show playing alongside D-Rose, but he'll have to show he's ready for the playoff intensity, especially going up against the Pacers bigs (Ryan)

Key to Series: How the Pacers try to cover Derrick Rose- It is a huge problem and one the Pacers have no answer for. (James)

Perimeter Defence- as good as Derrick Rose is offensively, he has a knack for finding the open guys on the perimeter and when given those shots, Korver, Bogans, Deng etc will knock down those shots if not defended properly. the Pacers also have lethal 3-point shooters of their own in Granger, Rush etc and the Bulls will have to stay on those guys to prevent them from getting open looks from beyond the arc as well. (Ryan)

Who Wins? Bulls in 4 (James) Bulls in 5 (Ryan)

Miami(2) vs Philadelphia(7)

Key Player: Chris Bosh (Mia) Let's face it the Heat may not even need Bosh in this series to be honest as Wade and James alone could win it. But it is a good early test to see if Bosh will be able to battle and compete in other more important games down the line. (James)

Chris Bosh (Mia)- he finally gets a chance to hopefully advance past the first round of the playoffs and he'll have to show he's indeed ready for the playoff intensity and won't crack under the pressure (Ryan)

Key To Series: Heat Role Players- We all know about the Big 3 but for Miami to go to an NBA Title it is going to take at least some help. Mike Miller, Mike Bibby, Joel Anthony anybody really that cares to step up, it is needed and welcomed. (James)

How the Sixers can contain James and Wade- These two have a lot of playoff experience and knows what it takes to easier take over a game and claim a victory (Ryan)

Who Wins? Heat in 4 (James) Heat in 5 (Ryan)

Boston(3) vs New York(6)

Key Player: Amare Stoudamire (NYK)- Boston traded away Kendrick Perkins and if the Knicks are going to have any shot in this series it will not be because of Mello it will be Amare that gets it done taking it at Boston in paint. (James)

Rajon Rondo(BOS)- recently it's seemed like he just hasn't got that spunk we're used to see him having and if the Celtics wish to get to the ECF again they'll need him in top form(Ryan)

Key To Series: Paint- This becomes a good old fashion fight in the paint. If the Knicks can turn it into that type of series they could shock the world. But beware of Ray Allen who will hang on the outside. But think this war happens in the paint and team that is more successful wins. (James)

Knicks D- we all know how bad the Knicks defence is, and in the playoffs that kind of defence just doesn't win games. They'll have to step up big time on the defensive end if they want to challenge the Celtics. (Ryan)

Who Wins? Boston in 7 (James) Boston in 6 (Ryan)

Orlando(4) vs Atlanta(5)

Key Player: Dwight Howard (Orl)- Yeah this is very obvious, but Dwight is basically going to carry the Magic on his back for as far as they go. He will need to show all of those reasons he is the Defensive Most Valuable Player. Stay out of foul trouble and techs. Oh and if you can drop like 20 and get double digits rebounds that would be great too. Superman he will need to be (James)

Hedo Turkoglu (ORL): he's been around the block in the last two season and has seen his stock in the league decrease drastically. Recently he's been struggling but this is the time for him to show why he was a huge part of the team that made it to the Finals two seasons ago. (Ryan)

Key To Series: ATL Choke City- The Hawks fired their coach and traded away Mike Bibby. It was all because of this...the playoffs. Atlanta needs to see there Key Players well you know show up. That didn't happen last year and hasn't happened ever. Al Horford was a lonely guy last year in terms of effort and performance if he is again it is good bye Hawks. (James)

Containing Dwight Howard- As we all know Dwight is a force in the paint and Al Horford, who really isn't a C, will have his hands more than full trying to defend him down low.(Ryan)

Who Wins? Magic in 5 (Ryan) Magic in 6 (James)

Western Conference

San Antonio(1) vs Memphis(8)

Key Player: Tim Duncan (SA)- The Spurs all year have been trying to keep him healthy and get him ready for this time of year. A first round match-up with Marc Gasol should let us know how well it worked. Gasol is a rougher and tougher version of his brother on the Lakers. Not as talented but far more aggressive. (James)

Manu Ginobli (SAS)- its already determined that he'll miss game one of this series, and he has been one of, if not the most important, player on that Spur team. If he isn't 100% throughout this series the Spurs could be surprised by this young Grizzles team. (Ryan)

Key To Series: Spurs Reserves/3 Point Shooting- Spurs need guys like Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Hill and others to come up big and drop some bombs on the Grizzlies. Memphis/Vancouver has never won a single playoff game. Kill them with 3's and never let them get close. (James)

The Play of Zach Randolph- In the last few weeks leading into the playoffs, Randolph has shown that he's one of the best PF's in this league. He's a beast on the boards, and can score in a number of ways. Duncan and McDyess will have their hands full containing him on the low block.(Ryan)

Who Wins? Spurs in 6 (Ryan) Spurs in 5 (James)

L.A Lakers(2) vs New Orleans(7)

Key Player: Andrew Bynum (LAL)-Not so much for what he does in this series but for how he looks in this series. Yet another injury heading into this one. A bone bruise on his already banged up knee. Lakers won't need Bynum to squash the bugs. But they will need him later and this series should tell us if he is up for the challenge. (James)

Chris Paul (NOH)- He missed most of last season due to injury and thus the Hornets missed the playoffs. This year the Hornets are back in the playoffs picture and he has a chance to prove when he is still a Top 3 PG in this league, plus he has the clear advantage doing up against Derrick Fisher. (Ryan)

Key To Series: How Hornets Deal with Lakers Size- Lakers are bigger and badder than Hornets. David West is gone and even he would be undersized in this match up. Good luck to them dealing with Laker big people on both ends and even if you do that there is that Kobe Bryant guy who is pretty good. (James)

Scoring In The Paint- David West is out for the Hornets and thus the Lakers have a huge height advantage in the paint, if Bynum's injury isn't too serious him, Gasol and Odom will have to dominate down low for the Lakersd to easily take this series. (Ryan)

Who Wins? Lakers in 4 (James) Lakers in 5 (Ryan)

Dallas(3) vs Portland(6)

Key Player: Gerald Wallace (Por)- Acquired at the trade deadline Wallace is the X-Factor of all X-Factors. He has a better supporting cast with Blazers and I think he goes crazy in this series and will be a load for Dallas to deal with. (James)

LaMarcus Aldridge (POR)- in the absence of Brandon Roy he has stepped this game up and carried this Blazers team for most of the season with the help of Wesley Matthews. Going into the playoffs he'll have to continue doing just that is the Blazers want to move past the first round. (Ryan)

Key To Series: Playoffs and Dallas- Sorry but ever since Mark Cuban went on Letterman and was flying high on the way to his Mavs beating the Heat and winning an NBA Title it has all gone south in post season for Dallas. They fall to 3rd on the last night of season and draw a tougher match-up in the Blazers. It just as smells like another Dallas Debacle. It is all mental for the Mavs it really is. (James)

Experience- the Blazers are a very young team while most of the Mavs key players are already well into their 30's. If the Blazers can push the tempo and force the Mavs to play that pace, they could make this an interesting series. Then again the Mavs do have some young pieces on their bench so, that unit can most likely keep, up with that tempo, but in the end the keep guys will be the ones who'll have the ball in their hands at the end of the game.(Ryan)

Who Wins? Blazers in 6 (James) Mavs in 6 (Ryan)

Oklahoma City(4) vs Denver(5)

Key Player: Kendrick Perkins (OKC)- K.D and Westbrook will do what they do. But the reason why everyone now loves the Thunder (Who I picked to go to Finals in Pre-Season) is this guy. He will get Nene in round one and it will be the first of many challenges for him assuming the Thunder go as far as people are saying. (James)

Kendrick Perkins (OKC)- He was the anchor to the Celtics anchor in Boston, and now he'll be taking that toughness into the playoffs with KD and the Thunder. With Nene and K-Mart, who still has some gas left in the tank, patrolling the paint and going after those boards, Perkins will have to use that size to bother shots as well as keep those guys of the glass.(Ryan)

Key To Series: Road Warriors- No not the hall of fame WWE Tag Team. These are two of the toughest places to play as a visitor in the league. Great fans in both arenas and a challenging atmosphere to deal with. OKC was 25-16 on the road this year and that will serve them well in this series. (James)

Bench Play- the Nuggets have been playing probably the best team all in the NBA since the Melo trade and have had most of their players record 10+ points in games over the last few weeks. OKC also has a good second unit coming off their bench. So the team with the best bench contribution will most likely win this one. (Ryan)

Who Wins? OKC in 5 (James) Ryan OKC in 6

That is our picks, if you want to share yours and play along in the comments feel free. Playoffs are here Raptors or not. Enjoy them because with the looming Lockout no telling when you see basketball again.


Happy Locker Clean Out Day

Well I did not travel to Toronto for all the fun and festivities that is locker clean out day. Maybe one day I will. But got to see it all for myself and read up on what I missed. Zack Cooper did a nice summary with all the quotes and notes from Locker Clean Out Day that you can check out. I also give my thoughts and opinions on all that I saw and read in this lengthy podcast. I encourage you to give it a listen. I apologize that I could not sing or rap in between segments to make it a little more entertaining. But hopefully some straight basketball talk will be good enough to keep you interested.

We wanted to find footage of Mike James version of I Believe I Can Fly but it is far to rare. Still here it is (R.Kelly Version) and you have to wonder if you can believe in the Raptors moving forward.


Top 10: Moments of the Raptors Season

So it's that time of year again where the season is coming to and end and unfortunately the Raptors are on the outside looking in on the playoffs and once again heading towards the draft lottery. Though this may be a very good thing as they are in the "retooling" phase and can use as many young pieces as possible going forward.

This season has been filled with moments of promise, moments of just utter disappointment and moments of confusion. With the loss of Chris Bosh in the offseason, combined with a truckload of injuries the team the team really struggled this season and are playing for either their 23 win of 60th loss when they take on Chris bosh and the Heat tonight, though the Big 3 will most likely be chilling on the pine in preparation for the playoffs this weekend.

Yes there have been several fourth quarter collapses, some huge losses, which included a few 30+ and 40+ margins, there have been some moments this season that gave us a glimpse of the future and what could happen if this team is put together the right way. So here are the Top 10 moments of the 2010-2011 Toronto Raptors moments.

#10: Dime Master Calderon drops 19 assists on the Wolves
In a season in which he started coming off the bench, Calderon has shown that he can still be a great PG in this league, minus the defense. In a February showdown with the Wolves, jose did what he does best and distributed the ball on the way to a total of 19 for the game. This season he has also tallied 15 of more assists a total of 6 times and have 12 double double, which is 10 more than Bargnani has on the season.

#9: Il Mago goes off at MSG
The Knicks are not a team that plays great defense and neither are the Raptors, but in a showdown on a cold December night, the Knicks D, made Bargnani look like Kobe as he scored his career high of 41. He was also very efficient that night shooting 16-24 from the field, 2-3 from beyond the arc and 7-8 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed a rare 7 rebounds in the process.

#8: Defeating the Celtics
Since the Big 3 of Pierce, Allen and Garnett came together in the 2007-08 season the Raptors had only beaten them once, way back in 2008, thanks to the efforts of Jose Calderon, and have since been swept in the past two seasons. So no one really expected the Raptors to be the victors when the two teams met earlier in the season, before the Celtics recent struggles, but they did just that and walked away with a 102-101 win against one of the Easts elite.

#7: Comeback at the Palace
During the season whenever the Raptors got down by 20+ deficits, fans would either continue watching in agony or change the channel, and that was most likely the case when the Raptors trailed by as much as 25 to the Pistons. Bayless scored 18 of his 31 in the second half and was a key part of the comeback as the Raptors outscored the Pistons 37-17 in the 4th quarter to walk away with a 120-116 victory.

#6: Triple OT in London
On the second day of the two games played in London the Raptors and Nets, gave the fans one heck of a show. Both teams especially the Raptors have the opportunity to put that game away but it seemed like neither team really wanted it to end. From Bayless' reactions every time the Raptors hit a shot that seemed like the game winner to Bargnani's step back jumpers that never found the bottom to the rim this game had all the makings of a classic. If only it went a few more OT's.

#5: James Johnson trade
Bryan Colangelo has been trying to make moves for the past few years that would ultimately benefit the team, but unfortunately he has come up short on most of them, most famously the signing of Hedo Turkoglu. But he may have found gold with the trade for James Johnson this year. At first I had no idea who James Johnson was when the trade was first announced but after seeing what this guy can do for this team going forward, its clearly one of the best moves BC has made in a while, though it has probably ended the Sonny Weems era in Toronto.

#4: Silencing the Thunder...Twice
Coming into the season not many people expected the Raptors to put up a fight against the leagues contending teams, but they have played amazingly against several of these teams and have even been able to beat a few of them including the Thunder on two occasions thus sweeping the season series. The first win was without Kevin Durant in the lineup, but with KD playing the second time the Raptors were able to get the win again thanks to a game winning bucket by amir Johnson.

#3: DeMar's Growth
After a decent first season in the league DeMar has shown that he's gonna be a force to be reckoned with in the future. From his ability to get to the rim to the improvement of his jumper, he has doubled is scoring from last season and has even scored 30+ points on 6 separate occasions after scoring 20+ only twice last season. Now he just needs to improve on the defensive end and extend his offense to the three point line to truly have opponents shaking in their shoes.

#2: Taming the Bulls
Once again proving that they can play with the big dogs in the East the Raptors took down yet another elite in the East, when they beat the Bulls in a February match-up. Ironically, it was James Johnson's first game in a Raptors uniform after being traded by the Bulls, and in his first start, he showed us all what he can do. DeMar and Bargnani both scored 24 that game on route to a 118-113 Raptors victory.

#1: DeMar at Dunk Contest
After last year's performance in which he lost in the final round to Nate Robinson, DeMar was invited to the dunk contest again this year, after not making the cut at first, and put on an amazing show. Though he had probably the best dunk of the entire contest the judges failed to show him the credit he deserved and thus he was eliminated in the first round. Unlike the other competitors DeMar used no props and showed what dunking should be about and not what it has sadly become. In the end I'm pretty sure people will be talking about his Show-Stopper dunk instead of Blake's sad jumping over the hood of a car dunk.

In a season which has been filled with disappointments, there have been some key moments this season in which the Raptors played like we expected them to or several players put on amazing performances. Going forward these things may hopefully translate into more successes for the team and in a few years maybe they'll be playing in the playoffs instead of heading to yet another draft lottery. Well that includes another installment of the top 10, if I have forgotten and key moments this season feel free to chime in, in the comments.

Raptors Last Day Of School Is Here.

Today is not your normal preview so throw away that format kids. Who wants to work to hard on the last day of school anyway. This game could have meant something for Miami which would have made it a tad more interesting but they are locked in 2nd place in the East. The Raptors have been locked out of the playoffs for awhile. Speaking of Lockouts the first sign of the NBA Lockout is making the rounds today. Vegas Summer league and the Orlando Summer League apparently have been cancelled is the rumour buzzing around. So as much as this is a mealiness affair tonight versus the Miami Heat, you still might want to watch, because no one can honestly tell you the next time you will get to see the Raptors play a game. Sad as that may be it is the reality.

However if you do watch you will have to endure watching Chris Bosh laughing it up. He has had the last laugh on the Raptors this season without a doubt. This Raptor season can be used as exhibit "A" as to why he decided to leave last summer. The Raptors without him are not exactly good, a potential 60 loss season with an L tonight makes the case pretty clear as to why Bosh left. This seems a very fitting way to end what has been one of the worst seasons in Raptors history.

Also apparently according to Peddie the outgoing head guru of all things MLSE the board has not decided the fate of Bryan Colangelo. He refused to comment on the story that suggested it was one holdout on the board that was keeping Colangelo from getting his extension. Dave Feschuk first had this story back on March 12th if you missed it here is the link. If Colangelo is not decided on it would seem highly unlikely we get a decision on the future of Jay Trinao any time soon as well.

It has been a forgettable season in a lot of ways. The one bright spot has been the development of Demar DeRozan. He has made big strides. Andrea Bargnani has not. When the Raptors are back, whenever that will be, you have to hope that this team is being built around DeRozan and not Bargnani. While some people are super excited about ping pong balls and the draft lottery I am not as excited. I do not see any "Franchise Player" in this draft class. A class that is being limited by the looming NBA work stoppage. At least the Raptors will be one of the few teams with a chance to just get a player that can have an impact. But no one in this draft strikes me as a franchise changer. If the Raptors do fall to the Heat tonight they will secure the 3rd best odds in the upcoming NBA Draft lottery in May.

So tonight it all ends for the Raptors and with the NBA's future in some serious doubt it makes the Raptors future is even harder to figure out. A new CBA will dramatically impact on how you are able to fix this team. No matter if it is Bryan Colangelo or someone else. The rules will change on how the game is played in terms of building a team. So it is hard for anyone to exactly know the answers to fixing the Raptors without knowing the rules of the game.

As bad as this season has been. When you look at the bleak future for the NBA with no guarantee when or dare we say "if" next season starts. It make the sting of this awful season seem a little less. After all even a lousy season and one of the worst seasons in team history is better than no season at all isn't it? I still have many good memories of this season despite the Raptors awful year. The future for the Dino Nation Blog and all blogs like it are in serious danger as well. There are a lot of people that make a living off the NBA and the Raptors. I can tell you if I did the Dino Nation Blog for the rest of my life I can almost guarantee I will not make what an NBA player does in the season. It is really scary to think all your hard work for 3 plus years can be taken out from under your feet. The sad thing about Lockouts is the people that make the least and ones that don't make a thing and are just fans are the ones that suffer.

So for 2 and half hours try and watch a basketball game that honestly will look like a Vegas Summer League game at times and remember what you love about it. It might be hard to remember when all the dust clears. I will do my best to figure out a way to keep doing what I love to do. I pray that I am able to be around on the other side of all of this. Some how, Some way, I will be. Or I will die trying to be. That is how much I love what I do. It makes it hard not to be bitter and angry over the lockout. Really hard.

Something that isn't hard is to thank all of you for another season of your support of the Dino Nation Blog. Remember tonight's game is on Sportsnet 1 and tips at 8pm. It is the last day of school in a basketball sense and there is no guarantee when we will see all these faces again. The Dino Nation Blog does keep rolling along in the summer months. So stick with us. But thanks for another great season of support and love. It may not have been great in terms of on the court but it is always a pleasure to share my thoughts and opinions with you and do my best to keep you entertained and informed.


Raps Lack Man Power To Finish On The Road.

It was the Raptors last Road game of the season and they were mighty thin in this one with just 8 healthy bodies and it was not looking good. But they would give a game effort as it turned out. Here is my audio re-cap of the festivities in Milwaukee.

Here is the boxscore if you still care about such things at this point of the season.

Last Stop Of Raptors Tour 2010/11- Milwuakee

The season is drawing to a close and based on Jay Trinao's pre-game presser last night it would seem what you saw last night is what you will get the rest of the way. Which means no Bargnani, Calderon, Amir Johnson, Barbosa etc. In terms of Johnson while Trinao would not elaborate he said that Johnson they have been told by doctors has more than just an ankle sprain. Given the Raptors have a long term investment in him that is cause for concern. How much cause you really can't say not knowing the full extent of what is wrong. At least it was slightly better than the standard hockey lower and upper body injury. We do have a body part an ankle that has taken a ton of abuse this season. Amir Johnson is likely done for the year and really gave everything he had for this team. A true warrior like effort and he did all he could to earn every penny he was paid. But Raptors move on nine strong or weak as the case maybe. Facing a Bucks team that had higher expectations this season than Toronto and has fallen well short of them. I was one of the view that did not praise the Bucks off-season. They in my opinion took steps backwards not forward and as they will watch the post-season with the Raptors and others it is hard to say I was wrong.

The Basics: Raptors 22-58 (Still tied with Wizards for 3rd worst in NBA) vs Bucks 33-47 (21-19 at home this being their final home game of the season)

When Last We Saw Them: I was there in person and watched the Raptors build a huge lead and almost watch it melt away. Maybe it was the Raptors small line up of just 9, the fact both teams had nothing but pride to play for, but whatever it was this felt like a summer league game. Raptors get the win and remained tied with Wiz for 3rd worst in NBA.

The Key Match Ups: No Bogut and Bargnani which is advantage Raptors as Bogut in previous match-ups has been unstoppable for the Dinos. Milwaukee goes with a undersized starting five and the one you might worry about most has the nicest hair in the gym. Carlos Delfino for whatever reason gets jacked up to play his former club and if he gets hot from 3 point land could make for a long night. Bayless has done well scoring and running the offence but on D not so much and Brandon Jennings is a guy that has potential to go off if you let him. Last home game of the year for the Bucks and Jennings would like to put on a show for his fans you would have to imagine. Demar DeRozan and Ed Davis are perhaps the only reasons to watch the Raptors these days and look for them to try to take advantage of lots of playing time and continue their positive play down the stretch.

Other Things of Note: Just want to say I had a great time in Toronto yesterday and covering the Raptors for another year. From fans of the blog, to people who have become friends, media friends and the Raptors staff and players it has all made for an enjoyable second season covering the team. More thoughts on this is in the post prior to this one if you care to check it out. Also I made my weekly visit to the Team 990 on early Saturday Morning. Not much Raptors talk in it but lots of talk about the coming NBA playoffs in it so give it a listen if you like.

Where is it on: TSN....No Really!!! The main network for one last time this season. How the Bucks get on a Main Network and on Wednesday the Heat do not is one of the mysteries of what the heck the people do in scheduling of sports in this country are thinking. Something tells me I never want to know. Psst....Miami Heat are a pretty big deal.....They have this guy that use to play for the Raptors too. Might have seen it on the news on ESPN.

2 Seasons Of Covering Raps In The Books.

I could have done a recap of the Raptors glorious win over the Nets that may cost them a spot in the draft lottery order. But after a long and great day in Toronto decided it would be old news by now and with Raptors right back at it tonight with the Bucks what would be the point. So instead of that thought I would share my thoughts as I have come to a conclusion of my second year covering this team with access. I was able to cover even more games this year and build on things from year one.

If I stop and think about all the great players I got to see and or talk with this year it would amaze me. From Steve Nash to Kevin Durant and many more. It really is amazing to have that privilege and be able to call it your job. In terms of Steve Nash, I can tell my grandchildren (assuming I have any) that I got to see Canada's greatest basketball player up close. When the Dino Nation Blog started not sure I could have dreamed for all of these great experiences. I am sure that when the NBA first came to Canada I dreamed of covering it someday. But back in 1994 who even knew what a blog was, who would have though there would be this thing called Twitter. You may have a plan and dreams for you life, but the path you take to get there always has some things you could have never expected.

It is a great experience to get to know players and this season I really got to build relationships with some of the players I have been covering for a couple years now. At the top of that list are Reggie Evans and Demar DeRozan. When I first started covering this team up in Ottawa at training camp a couple of years ago they were first two guys I spoke with. Over those two years I have spoke with both to many times to count. It makes you have a greater appreciation for both their successes and failures. Reggie has had a tough 2 seasons in Toronto and injuries have made it tough for him. But watching him fight back from both gave me a greater respect for Reggie, more than I would have had without having access and knowing him on professional basis. These are some of things I value about having access to the team. It allows you a opportunity to get a better sense of everything to a degree.

In terms of Demar the person I met in Ottawa was a nice young man, that was for all his talent and skill, still a shy person in terms of talking. But he has grown and become much more confident in that respect. I got to see first hand the great relationship he has with Sonny Weems. I also got to see a kid who the first time I talked with him told me "I want to be not just good but great" start the long path to making that reality. I understand how much he wants to succeed and have got to be a spectator to that. Demar will always have a special place in my heart. He came into the NBA as a freshman out of USC in part to make sure his mom got the best care possible. She suffers from Lupus and he wanted to make sure he was able to help provide the best care possible. As someone that has made sacrifices to care for my mother I really respect that. So does it make me root for Demar to be successful? It sure does and there is nothing wrong with that. He works hard and think everyone can agree Demar has taken strides towards the greatness he desires to achieve.

You also learn that all the relationships that you have can be gone like that. I always enjoyed talking with Jarrett Jack and he was there one time I covered a game and was gone the next. It is always a weird feeling when you enter that locker room and their is a new face in the place of an old one. So you start that process of getting to know that new person. Jerryd Bayless is a super young man. He has struggled this year but has started to show some signs here late in the season. Still it remains to be seen how much this means. The one thing I have learned about Bayless is in a season that a team has to endure a ton of losing there is no one that takes that more personally than him in that locker room. It is written all over his face and without him saying a word you can know if the Raptors won or lost.

As I left that locker room and the ACC last night I had a number of thoughts running through my head. Was that the last time I was going to get to laugh at Sonny Weems for some silly thing he did in that locker room? Sonny is always fun loving and always heard in that locker room. He may be the most fun loving guy on this team. Even with his roll reduced by James Johnson it has not stopped Sonny from being Sonny. Logically his future with the Raptors for next season seems bleak. While personally I would love to see him again, I know logically that is probably not likely. It may have been the last time I get to see Reggie Evans in that locker room as well. His situation is a little less clear. Reggie has shown some things that some feel there is a chance he could stay. Time will tell on what ultimately happens.

There was also a strange vibe with everyone I spoke with as it was my last time seeing a lot of these folks for the season. That strange vibe is the fact that everyone I have spoke with to a man or woman seems to feel an NBA Lockout will happen. So it is not just a simple case of see you next season. No one is really sure when that will be and some wonder "if" that will be. Everyone in that bubble that is covering games from staff, to players and folks in media. We all wonder what the future brings with no control or say in it. Everyone has an opinion on it though. But the one thing that would shock almost everyone is if we were playing games in late October to start the season as would be the normal practice.

You have to hope that people will be able to keep going and everyone on the other side comes back to be doing what they do. It is a scary awkward time for everyone. When you think about that it makes the fact the Raptors season itself has been one of the worst ever not mean quite as much. Is a terrible season better than no season at all. As much as this season has been frustrating and a true grind to get through, it is far better to have a season and be able to work. No season is so bad that it doesn't make you want to come back for another.

So I close off this 2nd year of having access with the Raptors hoping there will be another but having no idea when that will. It is a pretty sad way to end a season. A pretty scary summer to look forward too. But all that being said I have been fortunate to have another season covering this team and appreciate the opportunity to do so. Jim LaBumbard has been so kind to allow me that opportunity and ask anyone that works covering this team, you are likely to hear nothing but great things about Jim and I am no different. It was a fun year and I really felt like I belonged this year. Last season was like a blur trying to fit in and feel like I belonged to be there. It takes awhile but I truly feel comfortable now and have got to know lots of great people through it.

Oh yeah and Raptors beat the Nets 99-92.


Better Effort, Same Result

Raptors had no Bargnani,Calderon, Amir Johnson or Barbosa. But showed more fight then they had in awhile. All the details in audio form with yours truly.

Here is that boxscore I mentioned with all the stat goodies for you stat junkies.

Playing Out String In Philly

Raptors road woes are well documented (6-33 on the Road) that being said this is one of the few places on the NBA map the Raptors have won. But that was early in the season (94-86 Win on Nov 17 2010), and that was a much different Sixers team. After a very slow start to the season Doug Collins has turned this thing around. Some even say he deserves to win the Coach of the Year Award. I am not one of those. But he has done a solid job turning the Sixers into a playoff team once again. Raptors have been without Andrea Bargnani 4 of the last 6 games and when he has been in there it really hasn't done anything. If it was my call I would just shut him down for rest of season. Let Ed Davis play and gobble up the extra minutes. Jose Calderon returned the last game and again I would rather see Jerryd Bayless at this point. Raptors should just play the kids and honestly should have been doing it for a long time. This team could easily make it to 60 losses on the season. They play Philly tonight, Nets on Sunday, Bucks on Monday and close it out with Heat on Wednesday. It stopped being about winning a long time ago.

The Basics: Raptors 21-57 (Lost 6 straight on Road) Philadelphia 40-39 (1/2 game behind Knicks for 6th in East)

When Last We Saw Them: The Raptors lost to the worst team in the NBA in the Cavs and trailed by as many as 22 the less we say about this game the better.

The Key Match Ups: Jrue Holiday is the key match-up for the Raptors to figure out. His improvement has been a big part of this Sixers turnaround. In a new system this season he has been able to shine. The Eddie Jordan Princeton offence was not a good fit for him or the Sixers. Be it Calderon or Bayless there needs to be an improvement on defensive end. Jodie Meeks can be a deadly 3 point shooter at times he is averaging 41% on the season. Raptors defence of the three point line has been a joke for most of the season. When ever you see Toronto vs Philly the name Andre Iguodala comes to the forefront. He still remembers Rob Babcock for passing on him in the draft and often is very motivated to come out and show Raptor fans what they missed out on.

Other Things Of Note: Your Ping Pong Ball Standings down the stretch:

  • 1. Minnesota 17-62 --
  • 2. Cleveland 17-61 (1/2 Game Back)
  • 3.Washington/Toronto 21-57 (4 1\2 Games back)
  • 5. New Jersey 24-54 ( 7 1/2 Games Back)

So with a loss the or a Nets win the Raptors would enter the Draft Lottery no worse than 4th and meaning the lowest they could pick is 7th. By winning the season series with Cleveland it would put 2nd out of reach. So really if you want to scoreboard watch you are looking for Washington wins down the stretch. Basically Raptors will enter the lottery 3rd or 4th it looks like.

Where Is It On? Sportsnet 1 (Stick around after to watch the Jays a team that is WINNING)


Embarrassment Should Equal Change

I was going to do a re-cap of the Raptors latest humiliation but I decided to just give you a quick run down in the first paragraph. The Raptors were against the worst team in the league and a team that they had beaten twice, by 20 at the ACC in late October and by 15 in Cleveland in January. After an embarrassing performance in NYC the Raptors returned home to take the bar even lower as it turned out. To be down 22 to the worst team in the league is totally unacceptable and quite honestly a joke. You can say what you want about the talent on this roster but I think everyone would agree there is more here than in Cleveland. How anyone can not hold Jay Triano responsible for these constant embarrassments is beyond me. True the Raptors as they often do made a run, and made the game closer than it truly was. But when it started and when it mattered they were a train wreck. The effort was awful and obvious. I love Reggie Evans and he never is lacking effort. But when Reggie Evans is leading your team in scoring for most of the first half something is wrong. True when you talk about effort that points to the players. But at this level it is one of the main jobs of a coach in my opinion to motivated and extract effort from your team. Not just effort after you have shown none. Apologists be dammed, Jay Triano owns some of the responsibility for this. We have seen some of the most humiliating and embarrassing losses in Raptor history with him as the head coach.

Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are also part of this problem. They are a defensive liability and when you play point guard in this league and can't stay with Baron Davis that says it all. In terms of Bargnani there has been zero improvement in his game defensively and if you are going to give Triano praise for the development of DeRozan and Davis, you would need to blame him for Bargnani as well. He himself has admitted to his lack of improvement. Has Bargnani ever missed a start? Has Calderon, if it was not for injury? Would Sam Mitchell have allowed this to go on without sending a message to them? Not likely as Sam Mitchell for what he might lack in offensive creativity or X's and O's he knew how to get a message across. Triano may know his O's very well but his X's are sorely lacking. This all becomes a question of not wins and loses but of a culture. If you are the young players that will be part of this team's future how are you going to react to all this? You have a player in Bargnani that seldom brings any effort at all on the defensive end of the floor but is never really impacted by it. Jose Calderon gets blown by on a consistent basis and if you can show me the last time he fought through a pick I would love to see it.

Talking about defence is wonderful. Jay Triano has talked about it a lot. But his actions do not reflect his words to any real degree as long as Bargnani and Calderon are able to exist with no fear of losing their role no matter how awful they play on that end of the floor. Yet Sonny Weems after leading the team in scoring the night before for sent to the bench in favour of newly acquired James Johnson. Weems is not setting the world on fire with his defence either. But is this a consistent message. Is this the culture you want to create? I don't know about you but it sure isn't one that I want any part of. You can talk defence till you blue in the face, until we see it have actual real consequences for everyone on this roster from 1-12 it means nothing. The reality is with and without Chris Bosh there has been on constant in that Jay Triano has coached this team to the bottom of the league in defence. How on earth their is a story floating around that Jay Trinao may stay and Colangelo could be the one that goes is a total joke to me.

Now I am the first to say Colangelo has not done a great job as well. I have felt that major moves he has made since coming to the Raptors have been failures. But I will give him this much he has been able to press the reset button a couple of times and re-position this team to rebuild itself. This with the bad contracts of both Bargnani and Calderon on the books. Colangelo has to come to grips with the fact that Andrea Bargnani is never going to grow into what he had hoped he would. He lacks the drive and desire to be anything beyond an above average scorer in this league. I would also question is true toughness. Amir Johnson has played through so many things that we know of and probably a few that we don't. To have that drastic contrast to Bargnani is something that makes it pretty obvious. I will go into battle with a guy like Amir Johnson and even if I am not going win the fight, I know that at the very least he is going give me all he has. The longer you keep Bargnani the less likely you are able to move him. You only need to look at Jose Calderon for proof of that. He is to the point he is unable to be moved. Colangelo almost pulled a rabbit out of his hat this summer moving him to the Bobcats. But nothing Calderon has done has made him any easier to get rid of now. It just confirms what everyone knows already. Calderon is a talented pass first point guard at times. His shot is on a steady decline. He can't defend a broom and can be taken out of a play with a pick easier than almost any player in the NBA. While he has proven to not be durable on top of all of that.

I am willing to believe in Bryan Colangelo one last time. But only if some things change. Triano needs to go and Bargnani needs to go. While Sam Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo was not the best marriage in the world. Sam had some good core values about basketball that Colangelo is lacking. Colangelo has never put a high priority on defence and this team needs a coach that does. Not just that will talk about it but act on it.

The one thing that is extremely clear to me is this. If Bryan Colangelo, Jay Trinao and Andrea Bargnani all remain when we start playing basketball again the Raptors are doomed to failure. If no changes happen at all to these 3 key positions in this franchise, how is anyone suppose to believe other wise. This team needs to have a culture of accountability, and it is clear with this group it is lacking that accountability. Why this is very important is you have a very young team that could easily fall apart if this does not change. Demar DeRozan and Ed Davis have still bright futures ahead. But if they grow frustrated with losing and nothing being done to change that, how on earth are they going to grow. People are human after all and if they are in an environment of losing after awhile it is going to have an impact on them.

Ever Raptor fan that was been on board with this franchise from day 1 can tell you all about it. For 16 years we have had to endure a team that has seldom performed to a level of a good team in the NBA. We have watched countless stars grow tired and frustrated and walk away from this franchise. The one theme between all of them is that they lost faith in this franchise to produce a winner. Fans don't have contracts or become free agents. Bloggers don't either to any degree. I have been both and still am both. I have endured 16 years of frustration and have had enough of this constant cycle of failure. The Raptors need to make bold aggressive changes if they are going to truly fix things. They need to look into the mirror and honestly look at where this franchise is at. Which is in a really bad place with people clinging to any small sign of hope they can find. Jay Triano is a great guy, he is and will be a real icon in the sport of basketball in this country. But he also is a guy that has shown no reason for people to have the blind faith they do in him. People always point to his job with Team U.S.A. That is not the NBA. Coach K that is the head coach of that program is smart enough to know what Jay brings to the table in that environment. He has a wealth of experience about the international game as a player and a coach. That doesn't make him an NBA head coach anymore than it does Coach K. Have you ever stopped to wonder why he stays at Duke? Simple answer is he is smart enough to know the NBA is a different, and while coaching an All-Star like roster for a couple of months can be successful, coaching even a great NBA franchise does not offer such guarantees

Change must happen for the Raptors and if it doesn't more embarrassing nights like last night are going to happen. Your future stars are going to develop in a losing culture and get frustrated and want out. Ask Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and so on they will all tell you. 16 years of this is more than enough and having some of lowest points in this franchises history only serve to drive that fact home. Change or fail. Simple as that.


The We Lost Our Stars Bowl III

Yes the we got screwed by South Beach Series coming to a close tonight in Toronto. The Raptors have already won this series with a 2-0 lead with wins of 101-81 in Toronto on October 29th and in Cleveland on January 5th winning 120-105. But if you consider the entire package the Cavs have beat the South Beach Heat 102-90 in Cleveland. Raptor will have one last chance to do that a week from today.

The Basics: Cavs 16-61 (3-7 in last 10) Raptors 21-56 ( 3-7 in last 10)

When Last We Saw Them: This just in Tony Douglas and Mello just made three pointers. It was won of those epic Raptor failures in the first half that you have gotten all to use too. Andrea Bargnani was back on to disappear again he is the Magician after all. DeRozan got his first career double double to bad the tape of the game will be burned or should be. Knicks started on a 13-0 run and won by the same 13. But to suggest this game was even up the rest of the way would not be a realistic reflection of it.

Key Match-Ups: Let's go old Raptor vs current Raptor. How about a little A.P versus Double D. As mentioned Demar did get numbers last night in NYC and if you can make it there you better damn well make it against the Cavs. A.P is a decent defender at least decent compared to anyone the Raptors have at his spot. Will see how Demar matches up with A.P. Baron Davis is so slow that if Calderon plays even he can stay in front of him. But likely be Bayless and this is a chance for the J-Bay resurrection tour to gain some steam. But please play some D. Also will be interested to see Ed Davis and J.J Hickson get together in this one. Both young and talented should make for a good battle.

Other Things of Note: Even "The Miz" a native of Cleveland has sold out the Cavs. Let's Go to the YouTube Footage:

And just because we are playing the Cavs it is always fun to bust out this video that I am sure is played to potential free agents about coming to the Cavs.

Yes that always makes me smile. People that feel sorry for the Cavs that are Raptor fans I really don't understand you. Who has ever felt sorry for us losing star after star. It makes no sense to feel anything but joy that the Cavs stink. After all without them people might notice that Raptors have not exactly set the world on fire this season. So don't just beat the Cavs. Crush the Cavs and after last night's lacklustre effort in New York fans deserve it. Really? Yes REALLY. For The Cavs to make good on Dan Gilbert's claim to win a title before Lebron James, this would have to be the WWE where even a no talent reality show wanta be can be champion. But this is the NBA and thankfully that doesn't happen here.

Where Is It On?: TSN 2 (No joke today cause I screwed this up in last night's preview. I feel shame so TSN and Sportsnet are off the hook for today)

So that is it and as Jessie The Body Ventura use to say the pleasure was all yours. Least we hope so. Trying to keep it fun with a week to go in the season from hell.

Top 10: Raptors Novels (Bonus Edition)

Have you ever wondered what any of the Raptors players will title their novel if they were to write one? Will they relate it to their experience in the NBA or will it be words that described their personality? Let's take a look at some of those titles generated by the kind folks on Twitter, with some contribution from myself and James.

"Defenseless" by Andrea Bargnani

"There's Nothing Wrong with Holding Hands" by Leandro Barbosa

"Money Shot" by Sonny Weems (@edmundrojas)

"One Less Lonely Guy" by Sonny Weems (@jeaarr)

"How To Play Like the Pros: Defense Not Required" by Jay Triano

"Rebounding for Two" by Reggie Evans

"Il Mago's Disappearing Act for Dummies" by Andrea Bargnani (@MegiMK)

"Sonny Who??" by James Johnson

"Quiet Rage" by Jerryd Bayless

"Hell No I Won't Go!!!" by Julian Wright

"How to Steal the Spotlight" by James Johnson (@j1_2_tha)

"The Forgotten Warrior" by Amir Johnson

"Hustle and Heart" by Reggie Evans

"The Art of Rebounding" by Andrea Bargnani

"No Props Needed" by DeMar DeRozan

"Chilling on the Pine" by Alexis Ajinca

"The Master Manipulator" by Bryan Colangelo

Now I'm not sure how many of these books I'll buy if they ended up becoming actual titles, but there are a few that may actually be suitable titles for several players. Thanks for tuning in this week, willbe back next week with more of the DNB's Top 10.


Empire State Of Embarrassment

Here is your recap of the this one between the Knicks and Raptors. If you happened to miss this one consider your self one of the lucky ones. It was not pretty at all. If you hear disappointment in my voice you can understand why if you watched this one.

For the truly brave here is the boxscore of this butt kicking in NYC. Raps back at it facing the Cavs tonight at ACC and I am going go out on a limb and say tickets still available.

DNB Preview Of Raps and Knicks

Here it is in glorious audio tones of your truly your preview of the Raptors in NYC to take on Knicks. Shockingly no Spike Lee references in this at all.

Also not if you catch the Raptors on the Radio with Paul Jones and Eric Smith the game has been moved up the Dial to CKOC in Hamilton here is a link to that. Tip time is 7:30 at MSG.

No Bargnani = Winning

Back after a couple days off. It is becoming a growing belief that the Raptors would be better off without Bargnani. Unlike when Chris Bosh missed games down the stretch last year the Raptors are actually winning the odd game without Bargnani. That didn't happen down the stretch when Chris Bosh was out with his busted face last year. Raptors are beating some unlikely teams as well. The Thunder twice, The Magic twice for a team with 55 losses that is beyond odd.

Jose Calderon also has been missing of late as well and Jerryd Bayless has been playing out of his mind in the last two games over this weekend. This is causing people to say give the keys to the car to Bayless and ditch Calderon. Also the Raptors could draft the best point guard in college on the National Champion UConn Huskies. Kemba Walker won the Bob Cousy award that goes to the top point guard in college basketball and his team in a truly ugly contest beat Butler in the national championship.

Here in the Dino Nation Blog it has been my belief that having Bargnani and Calderon on the floor together is toxic to the Raptors defensive effort. I hate hockey references in basketball but it is like giving a team a power play in terms of defence. Most fans answer is trade both and build around DeRozan and Davis with the rest of this young core. It would work easily on NBA2k11, I know because I have done it. But to trade both in reality might not be as easy a task for Bryan Colangelo. There is also a strong belief he would never trade Bargnani his number one pick.

But let's first talk about trading Calderon first of all. He is a capable offensive player. At times can border on brilliant. But as we have talked about for what seems like years now he is a horrible defender. He is perhaps the easiest point guard in basketball to set a pick on and take out of a play. He also is limited in foot speed and to stay in front of the growing crop of speedy point guards in this league on most occasions is beyond him. Those facts alone might make him impossible to trade. Then when you add in the fact he is injury prone and has a history of injuries to his hamstrings mostly along with some other injures along the way. The Raptors struggled to try and move him last summer and almost had him shipped off to Charlotte. Nothing this season has happened that will make the task of moving Calderon any easier.

Bargnani is a different case though. It has always been believed that he has never been in play for the Raptors to move him. Some will say that it isn't now. But it seems clear this fan base at least has made up their minds on in him and the general attitude is they would like him gone. While on offence Bargnani is very talented and even with Bosh gone and more double teams coming his way he has still been able to score. Bargnani is always going to be a scorer in this league that seems clear. But what also seems increasingly clear is that he has no desire to improve as a rebounder or a defender. He just doesn't show any type of effort and offers little in terms of hope that this will change. But the offensive talent is something that will appeal to a team. Bargnani as a second or 3rd option on a team on offence could be lethal. To make up for his lack of defence the team that takes him on will need a Dwight Howard type presence to back him up. They would also be wise to move Bargnani to the 4 spot. Bargnani is not a center in the NBA he just isn't. But the point is there will be teams willing to gamble on Bargnani. The price they will pay might be the sticking point. But there will be offers if Colangelo puts him out there.

I will close by saying this though. A lot of people are getting excited by what some guys are doing of late. Yes it is good to see. But let's not forget the Raptors are a 55 loss team and other teams could easily over look them. It happens and if the Raptors get off to a solid start these teams can end up in a fight they didn't expect to have. You need to judge people based on the whole 82 games or however long they have been here.

Today would normally be are NBA feature the NBAZ in 7 Dayz. But I am taking over that feature for the time being as Danielle has decided to move on from the blog and we wish her well. So I may move the day for that feature to fit my schedule. For now will do it once a week on Thursday. But later today we will have a preview of the Raptors and Knicks. I am sorry I took a couple days for myself but I am back now and it is business as usual.


A Rose By Any Other Name Is Not MVP

Here is you recap of an impressive effort by the Raptors but a bigger statement from Derrick Rose on why he is your MVP of the NBA or will be.

Here is the Boxscore of this one Raps lose 113-106 and drop their 6th straight.